Focus: Hosea 7:13-14, “Woe to them! For they have fled from me! Destruction to them! For they have rebelled against me! I want to deliver them, but they have lied to me. They do not pray to me, but howl in distress on their beds; they slash themselves for grain and new wine, but turn away from me.”
Disaster is the teller of the heart. Trials and tribulations are the tests that reveal where the affections of the heart are drawn. If we wish to know where our affections lie, there is nothing more informing than going through struggle. This is true on the level of the individual and on the corporate level. Where we turn when troubles strike demonstrates where we find security and where our hope lies.
As Hosea was prophesying against the Northern Kingdom, one of the prevailing complaints that the Lord had against his people is that they have fled from Him. Their hearts no longer were drawn to the Lord. His desire was to deliver them, but they were continually unfaithful to the Lord- it is like a husband who pursues his unfaithful wife. Every symbol of affection and compassion that the Lord tried to lavish on his people was soured by the bitter taste of flagrant rejection. Israel’s people loved their pagan gods and their hearts were totally blinded and subsumed by the deceit of sin- like an adulterous woman who is devoted to her decision to reject her husband and chase after sinful fantasy.
When there was a drought of grain and wine, Israel was totally oblivious to what the real problem was. They were so disconnected from their relationship with Yahweh that they did not consider that their lack of grain and wine was the fulfillment of the Covenant with Yahweh. The Covenant promised blessings for faithfulness to God and curses for unfaithfulness. Having barren harvest of grain and wine (Deut. 28:38-39) was part of the curses in the covenant for being unfaithful (Deut. 28:15-68). God was withholding his blessing on the land to produce fruit because Israel was unfaithful. But that is not the worst part.
What is worse is that Israel’s affection was so deeply rooted in her love affair with the pagan god of Baal, that her heart was never stirred to repent or turn back to God so that he would relent from his judgment. Instead, Israel pursued her lover Baal even more. They slashed themselves and howled in distress as an attempt to get Baal’s attention, hoping that he would hear their cry and bring fertility to the land. Their crisis was telling of the affections of their heart. Israel had no love for Yahweh. They had completely turned away from Him.
It was unfortunate that Israel was blinded in a relationship with an impotent fake god. She was never able to see her True Love. Trials were the truth teller of her heart. In her affliction she had no regard or the slightest care of what God might do for her because of His unfailing love. Today, as we go through struggles, great or small, we need to let them remind us that we serve a God who is real, who cares, and who has an unfailing love for us. We are never alone no matter how tough it gets, and we should use difficult times as moments of revival in our relationship with the Lord, that we would turn to Him.